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Mississauga St. Michael's Majors forward Devante Smith-Pelly celebrates his second goal of the game against the Kootenay Ice during the second period of their Memorial Cup semi-final ice hockey game in Mississauga May 27, 2011. REUTERS/Mike Cassese (Mike Cassese/Reuters)
Mississauga St. Michael's Majors forward Devante Smith-Pelly celebrates his second goal of the game against the Kootenay Ice during the second period of their Memorial Cup semi-final ice hockey game in Mississauga May 27, 2011. REUTERS/Mike Cassese (Mike Cassese/Reuters)

Majors melt Ice in Memorial Cup semi Add to ...

The day of potential redemption is coming for Dave Cameron.

And he'll only have to go through one of the top junior hockey teams in the country to get there.

Cameron's Mississauga St. Michael's Majors moved to within one win of the franchise's first Memorial Cup in 50 years on Friday, downing the WHL champion Kootenay Ice 3-1 in Friday's semi-final to move on.

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They'll now meet the Saint John Sea Dogs in Sunday's final, with the Majors coach hoping his team can reverse a recent trend of losing when it matters most.

Cameron has already endured being behind the bench for an incredible third-period collapse in the world junior final in January and a Game 7 overtime loss in the OHL finals the weekend before the Memorial Cup started.

A loss Sunday would make for a miserable three peat few have ever experienced in a five-month span.

The good news, however, is that they'll get a chance to undo a lot of that heartache with a national championship.



"Coming into the tournament, I thought we had some difficulty getting over the loss to Owen Sound for the league championship," Cameron said. "I thought we were real good tonight.



"A lot of it had to do with getting over that psyche of losing games where you weren't terrible, but you weren't getting any bounces and just played well enough to lose."



In a semi-final game that was just as low on artistic merit as when the two teams met in a snoozer during the round robin, the Majors grabbed an edge early with a goal 63 seconds in from big, burly winger Devante Smith-Pelly.



After that, they checked the Ice into submission much the rest of the way.



Smith-Pelly picked up the 2-0 goal late in the second period for the eventual winner, giving him three goals and three assists through four games in the tournament.



The Anaheim Ducks prospect, a second-round pick a year ago who hails from nearby Scarborough, appears almost ready to step in at the NHL level given the way he's played.



Joe Antilla had the lone goal for the Ice, netting a buzzer beater with one second left in the middle frame, but it wasn't nearly enough to get back in the game.



Cameron's troops then trapped their way through the final 20 minutes, finally icing the Ice with an empty-netter in the final minute.



Majors netminder J.P. Anderson made 28 saves to earn second star of the game, but with Kootenay unable to generate many quality chances, Smith-Pelly was easily No. 1.



"When you're able to limit their chances, you're able to frustrate them and keep games close," Anderson said. "That gives us a chance to be in every game, no matter who we're facing.



"If we can do that Sunday, we'll give ourselves a chance and that's all you can ask for."



With the win, Mississauga earns another shot at Saint John, the only team to beat the Majors so far in the tournament.



Trouble is, the Sea Dogs have been incredible all season, posting a 76-11-1-2 record between the regular season, playoffs and Memorial Cup.



Sunday's final should be a stark contrast in styles, with a veteran Mississauga team's shutdown game up against a young, high-flying group from Saint John that goes in the favourites.



"We're here at our rink so there shouldn't be any nerves," Smith-Pelly said. "We're just going to go in there and play our game."



"To win it for the city would be great," teammate Justin Shugg added.



The Ice, meanwhile, leave the tournament 2-3 having never been able to regain the momentum that saw them cruise through the WHL playoffs despite finishing the season not ranked in the CHL's Top 10.



"It's a tough one to swallow, with your season being finished right now," Kootenay coach Kris Knoblauch said.



"They're a good hockey team and it's very difficult to score. In two games against them, we haven't been able to have much success scoring goals against them. And I don't think it's a coincidence; it has a lot to do with the way they play."



It isn't pretty, but it may be enough to win a Memorial Cup.



Follow on Twitter: @mirtle

 

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